Three teenagers were sent to summer camp much to their dismay, but they met Arthur, who had a ring belonging to the former president Abraham Lincoln. The man also told them a great story that turned their whole summer around, and the kids discovered something extraordinary at the end.
15-year-olds Anthony, Bill, and Jim were at a summer camp called Lincoln Campground in South Dakota. They were all good friends from suburban Manhattan, and they wanted to enjoy the summer around the city. But their parents had other ideas and decided to send them to the most boring place in the nation.
The only remarkable aspect was that it was located near Mount Rushmore, and history was Anthony’s favorite subject at school. But there was only one excursion to the monument at the end of summer, and they had yet to see it. The 4th of July was tomorrow, and even the prospect of all the fun events didn’t cheer them up.
They discovered something amazing at the end. | Source: Shutterstock
That’s why an older man approached when he saw them sitting down near their cabin sulking. “Hey, kids. What are you doing?” Arthur asked them.
“Nothing,” Jim mumbled.
“There’s nothing to do here,” Anthony agreed, and Bill nodded. “We’re too old for summer camps, but our parents made us come.”
“You know… some people might say I’m too old for many things, but I still enjoy them,” Arthur remarked, trying to make them laugh or at least smile a little.
“Yeah, whatever,” Bill muttered.
“Ok… do you kids like history? Particularly the history of our country?” Arthur continued. He was going to get those kids excited no matter what.
Anthony finally perked up and looked at the man. “Yeah, it’s my favorite subject at school.”
“Awesome! Then look here. See this ring?”
“Yeah. Oh, that’s Abraham Lincoln!” Anthony chirped. Bill and Jim were frowning as they were not history buffs like their friend.
“Yeah, there’s a story in my family surrounding this ring. Do you want to hear it?” Arthur asked, trying to build suspense so the kids would be excited.
Arthur told them about his family's hidden treasure. | Source: Pexels
“Sure!” Anthony said, and the other teens finally perked up a little.
“Ok. It’s said that my grandfather worked on the original Mount Rushmore when they started around the 1920s. But you know that they built this summer camp at the same time, right?”
“We didn’t know that!” Jim replied.
“Well, they did. And my grandfather apparently discovered something insane inside the mountains. A huge treasure! But he had to hide it from the other construction workers and their bosses. Obviously, everyone would have taken interest in it, so he allegedly placed it in a chest and hid it somewhere in this camp,” Arthur continued, telling an almost unbelievable story. “This ring is supposed to be the key to finding it.”
“That’s not true,” Bill muttered.
“Why hasn’t your family found it?” Anthony asked, not paying attention to his friend’s skepticism.
“We’ve tried for decades, and no one has been able to figure it out. But… maybe you kids could do it,” the older man offered, taking the ring off his fingers and giving it to Anthony. The teen inspected it deeper and discovered the number 16.
“It has to mean something, right?” Anthony asked, almost to himself. “Lincoln was the 16th president, but the number has to be part of the key.”
The camp had an Abraham Lincoln memorial replica. | Source: Pexels
“Oh, man. I wish it were a map,” Jim chimed in, staring at the ring. Bill was also interested because both his buddies looked so intently at the ring.
Anthony looked around the camp for a few minutes. They were in the middle of a forest. There was a river nearby that you could still hear flowing softly in the wind. But where could this treasure be if it was hidden around the time the camp was built?
“THE STATUE!” Anthony and Jim yelled at the same time and stood up quickly. Bill followed, finally excited at the prospect of something special to do. And the three of them rushed to the small monument inside their camp that featured a more miniature copy of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. No one had ever questioned why that statue was there.
“Wait a minute! Loose floorboards that no one knew about before! Oh my god! That could be it!” Anthony cheered quietly.
They reached the statue and looked around it. “It has to be buried under here,” Jim suggested.
“Yeah! Let’s dig!” Bill agreed, but Anthony shook his head.
“If it was that easy, Arthur’s family would’ve discovered the treasure many years ago. No. This is something more. We need to think. Look closely at the statue and see if it tells you something,” Anthony decided, and the three boys stared deeply at their 16th president.
“Look! He has the same ring!” Bill suddenly yelled. And the boys assembled in one corner, stretching their necks to see the ring on the statue's finger.
Anthony didn't think the treasure would be below the statue. | Source: Pexels
“He’s right!” Anthony said. “What could it mean?”
“It means it’s here! Like I said!” Jim responded.
“That’s too easy. It has to be another clue,” Anthony disagreed.
Before they could explore or talk about their ideas, the curfew bell rang. It meant that all kids had to return to their cabins and go to sleep. If someone was caught outside breaking curfew, they could get kicked out of the camp. And for the first time since the beginning of summer, the teens wanted to stay.
“Let’s go!” Anthony said, and they all ran towards their cabin.
While curfew prevented them from being outside, they didn’t have to sleep. They pretended to when counselors came to check, but the three boys stayed up almost the entire night discussing what the ring on Lincoln’s finger could be.
“We can’t look tomorrow. It’s the 4th of July. They’re going to want us for activities, the races, the scavenger hunt, the pie-eating contest, and all of that,” Bill said when they started planning what to do the next day regarding the treasure.
Anthony had an idea. “Let’s take turns going to the statue. There must be some clue we did not see because it was getting dark. And we’ll talk about our findings at lunch! Sound good?”
The other two boys agreed, and they finally went to sleep that night.
The entire camp was covered in red, blue, and white for the 4th of July, and tons of people were running around. There were so many activities to participate in, and the boys followed Anthony’s plan, each coming back to the statue and checking things out.
He looked at the cafeteria. | Source: Pexels
During Anthony’s turn, Arthur showed up. “So, kid, have you found anything?” the older man asked.
“No! But I feel like we’re close to something. Did you see the same ring here?” Anthony responded, pointing toward the rings.
“Of course. But I’ll give you a hint. My entire family already dug up around this area, and there’s definitely nothing here. You’re going to have to use your wits to find out what it means,” Arthur replied.
“But how far has your family gone in this quest?”
“Up to here. We could never figure it out. Good luck, kid,” Arthur added, grinned, and walked away.
Anthony shook his head and told himself to think about this. He suddenly noticed that Lincoln’s statue had a solemn expression, and his eyes were focused at one point in the distance. The boy turned around and looked in the same direction, trying to see what the statue “saw.”
Lincoln looked towards the cafeteria cabin. It was the biggest one in the campground, but a treasure couldn’t be hidden there. Or could it? Anthony thought deeply. Suddenly he realized something. Sixteen lanterns were going up the path of the cafeteria and leading to an area behind them.
Bill suggested they start digging. | Source: Pexels
“Oh my god! That’s it! It’s there!” Anthony said, but people were going in and out of that cabin all day. He couldn’t precisely start digging around with people, so he waited until the activities were over and looked around carefully during dinner. He told Bill and Jim about it that night, and they decided to sneak out of their cabin to investigate further.
The kids were as careful and quiet as possible as they reached the back of the cabin.
“What are you doing here?” Arthur asked out of the blue, and the three boys almost screamed their heads off.
“You scared us!” Jim grumbled, and Arthur laughed.
“Sir, it has to be here. The statue of Lincoln is looking toward this area, and the path has 16 lanterns that lead all the way behind here. This is it! This is it!” Anthony explained, getting excited.
“Well, that was pretty smart, kid. Although I don’t know if that’s true,” Arthur muttered, scratching his chin with his hand.
“So, you’ve looked here?”
“No, and I admit it’s a good hunch. You see things beyond what others see. But what are you planning now?” Arthur wondered.
“To dig,” Bill said, shrugging his shoulders.
They were about to start digging behind the cabin. | Source: Pexels
Arthur looked at the kids like they were crazy, but he also shrugged his shoulders. “Ok, let me get some shovels,” he said and left for a second.
The kids figured out where they should start, and suddenly, Anthony felt something under his foot. “Wait, there’s something here!” he exclaimed and used his hands to unearth something. When Arthur returned with the shovels, he saw the kids kneeling over something.
“You found something already?”
“It’s a picture of you!” Jim said, surprised.
“Let me see,” Arthur requested, passing them the shovels and extending his hand toward Anthony, who handed over the old picture frame he had stepped over.
“Ah, no. This is my grandfather, Joseph,” he said. “But this is remarkable, boys. It means that you might be onto something.”
“But look, he’s sitting right in front of the construction of Mount Rushmore. Oh my god! Could that mean the treasure is hidden in the mountains?” Anthony pointed out.
“That’s impossible. Legend says that Mount Rushmore has a secret room, but no one can access it,” Bill told their friends.
“It has to be there!” Jim cheered.
They discussed that the treasure could be hidden in Mount Rushmore. | Source: Pexels
“Honestly, I don’t think so, boys. If so, government people would have found it, and I mean my grandfather was a construction worker. He was not the designer, but he would’ve known other people would not be able to go into that room. I think all these clues meant that he wanted us, his family, to find the treasure,” Arthur interjected.
“Wait a minute! What if it’s not Mount Rushmore? What if it’s the picture of the mountain? You know there’s one inside the camp leader’s office,” Anthony suddenly suggested.
“That’s true! But that means we have to sneak in there!” Jim added.
“No, boys. I’ve been coming to this camp for a while. That picture was originally in the cafeteria before they turned it into a cafeteria. We have to look inside here,” Arthur pointed towards the interior of the building.
“Let’s go!” the boys said in unison, dropped the shovels, and sneaked into the cafeteria.
“Wow, I’ve never been here when no one’s around,” Bill commented, as they used their flashlights to illuminate around the area.
“Sir, do you remember exactly where it hung long ago?” Anthony asked the older man.
“Here,” Arthur responded, leading them towards the corner.
“This is near the 16-lantern path, right? We’re on the right path!” Bill added, and the boys looked around.
Jim fell inside the cafeteria cabin. | Source: Pexels
Suddenly, they heard a loud “ooof” and the sounds of creaking floorboards.
“What happened?” Arthur asked. They turned towards the sound and discovered that Jim had tripped over the floorboards.
“Ah, man. That hurt,” Jim mumbled, getting up and rubbing his leg.
“Wow, that floorboard was loose. That’s why you fell,” Bill explained. “I can’t believe more of us have not fallen if the floorboards are like this.”
“Wait a minute! Loose floorboards that no one knew about before! Oh my god! That could be it!” Anthony cheered quietly and lifted the uneven floorboard that made Jim fall. He shined a light inside the hole. “There seems to be a second-floor down here. Although it looks weird.”
“What?” the other two boys asked, confused.
“Let me see,” Arthur suggested, and Anthony got out of his way. “It’s a chest!”
The boys all looked at each other in excitement and removed the rest of the loose floorboards. Finally, they reached down and lifted the heavy chest out. “Boy, this is heavy,” Jim complained.
“That’s because it contains treasure!” Bill teased.
When they finished lifting it, Anthony shone his flashlight around it. “Look at the lock. It’s all weird. It’s like a circle. Wait a minute! The ring! The ring has to be the key. Let’s try it!” he said and got the key out of his pocket. It fit perfectly, and the teen twisted it until it popped open with a puff of dust.
The chest contained something shiny. | Source: Pexels
“We did it! We actually found the treasure!” Jim marveled. “No offense, sir. But I thought you were lying to us all along.”
“Never in a million years did I think you boys would find it. But I have to say that Anthony has a knack for this sort of thing. With your passion for history and this talent, you might have to be an archeologist,” Arthur commented, patting Anthony’s back and smiling at the boy.
He beamed with pride and decided right then that that was his future path. But first, they had to look inside. As soon as they opened it, they saw all kinds of shiny things. “Gemstones. These are gemstones! Are they valuable?” Bill wondered.
“They have to be,” Arthur muttered. “You know boys, there’s a rumor about a secret passage carved inside Mount Rushmore that has been blocked from the public for many years. It probably doesn’t have anything, but I’m willing to bet that’s where my grandfather discovered all these things.”
“Well, what should we do? This belongs to your family, but we helped find it,” Bill asked.
“We’ll split it, of course. But you guys should keep your part hidden until you’re older or your parents might ask questions,” Arthur immediately said, and the boys were happy about it.
The older man took his grandfather’s ring and the chest back to his room where no one would question. He gave a pouch to each of the three boys the following day. Each bag had so many gemstones they wouldn’t know what to do with themselves.
Anthony became an archeologist. | Source: Pexels
And the teens were ecstatic. “We might be able to pay for college with them!” Anthony said as they all got ready for the Mount Rushmore excursion. Their time at camp was coming to an end, but they were all sad to go because the search for the treasure had been fantastic.
Years later, Anthony went to college with the money from pawning some of the gemstones, and he had more than enough left over to save. The other kids did the same, although Jim spent most of the money quicker than the others.
Jim and Bill forgot about Arthur, but the older man wrote to Anthony every once in a while. They emailed about their love of history and what they did with the gemstones.
Arthur gave the jewels to his children and only kept one ruby to remember that treasure hunt along with his grandfather’s ring. And when he died, he willed it to Anthony instead of anyone in his family.
But the gemstones were kept a secret from the rest of the world. Who knows if there were any more to find on those mountains? Maybe there’s a bigger hidden treasure somewhere in South Dakota.
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